Recently, the Australian government apologised to the “stolen generation” for past abuses. The apology had been long awaited and when delivered was well received by the indigenous people of Australia and the world in general. The question was then raised in the New Zealand parliament as to why Māori had not yet received a similar apology from the New Zealand government. The abuse of Māori by past governments is well documented involving not only land theft and illegal confiscations but numerous human rights abuses including racial discrimination, murder, armed aggression, and illegal incarceration. If reconciliation between Māori and Pākehā is an important part of nation building then an apology would seem to be in order. The concept of trans-generational justice is as valid as trans-generational resource transfer and trans-generational obligations. The argument supporting trans-generational justice is based on the authority of government residing not with individuals but with the office of government itself. Without an apology the marginalization of Māori will be difficult to overcome. This essay examines reasons why Māori should or should not receive an apology from the New Zealand government.

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